Hey Parents: Here’s 5 Questions About Sex Your Teen May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask
Helping teens thrive is no simple task; the physical, social and emotional aspects of growing up are tumultuous and difficult to navigate without support. When it comes to their sexual health and development, many parents cross their fingers and hope that their kid makes it into their adulthood unscathed and healthy.
Just as we wouldn’t throw a toddler into pool and expect that she can swim, neither should we expect teens to know how to navigate their transition into young adulthood. As their sexuality grows and changes, parents can be their number one source of information on staying safe and knowing how to protect themselves.
Here are some common questions teens have, and advice on how to answer them.
How does a person get pregnant?
Many parents assume that their teen already knows the answer to this question, but there are many who don’t, and more often than not, they don’t have the facts straight. This question tends to make parents a bit uncomfortable, as it involves talking about a traditionally taboo topic and having to say thing like “penis,” “vagina,” and “penetration.”
There’s no getting around it if you want to be sure your kid has all of the correct information, so buckle down and dive right in.
A good starting point is to explain that when a man and a woman have intercourse, a man inserts his penis into a woman’s vagina. When it feels good, both the man and woman can have an orgasm. For the man, this means that semen spurts or ejaculates out of his penis. If the semen (which contains sperm) gets into the woman’s vagina, it becomes possible for her to become pregnant.
The most important thing to break down for them is that sperm is what gets a female pregnant.
If at any time it gets into her vagina OR near her vaginal opening, the possibility of pregnancy is real. This can be from intercourse when the male ejaculates into or around the vagina and its opening. It can also include pre-ejaculate, which is a small amount of fluid that exits the penis before he ejaculates and may or may not contain sperm. Any time people have unprotected sex, (not using some sort of birth control) there is a chance a woman can get pregnant.
What is birth control?
There are so many options for birth control that it can be overwhelming to try and explain them all. It is helpful to start out by explaining that birth control is designed to keep a woman from getting pregnant. Should you want to get into specifics, there are many websites that list up to date methods of birth control that you can show your teen, or you can get information from your doctor.
It is very important to stress that birth control will not protect them from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and that they will need a condom for that.
How and where can I get birth control?
Telling your teen where they can get birth control or that you will help them get if they decide that they need it may seem counter-intuitive to many parents, but helping your child stay safe is of the utmost importance. You can get a prescription from her doctor or go to Planned Parenthood.
What are sexually transmitted diseases?
This can also be a daunting conversation, as there are many STIs they need to be aware of. It’s helpful to find a credible website that has a list of all STIs and their symptoms. Explain that some STIs can be treated with medicine, but that many are viruses that stay with you for your whole life, impossible to cure. The seriousness of this issue cannot be stressed enough; I recommend finding various articles published on-line that detail the devastating effects of having an STI. Stories tend to drive home the point you’re trying to make.
Be sure to explain how STIs are transmitted; any time a person has unprotected sex (including oral, anal and vaginal) or genital touching, an STI can be given from the infected person to the other. The only way to know if a person has no STIs is to get tested at the doctor’s office.
Lastly, make some time to talk about HIV and AIDS – they need to understand that if they aren’t safe, they could be putting their lives at risk.
These conversations can be awkward and daunting, but an honest and straight forward approach is the best way to help them protect themselves. If you’re too uncomfortable with these topics of conversation, it’s ok to provide them with literature that will answer their questions about sex and development. This website has a list of books and a plethora of resources to help you talk to and inform your teens about sexual health.
- Masturbation Book Club - December 15, 2015
- Teach Girls Masturbation, It’s Okay - November 12, 2015
- 5 Questions About Sex Your Teen May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask - October 29, 2015
- How Does My Teen Know When They’re Ready to Have Sex? - September 28, 2015